Monday, November 30, 2020

Will Busted Municipalities Use Covid Non-Compliance Fines To Gin Up Revenues?

taibbi |   The most penniless residents of the St. Louis exurb were written up for everything from actual crimes to municipal code violations like “High Grass and Weeds,” “Barking Dog,” and “Dog Running at Large.” Between 2010 and 2014, the city wrote up 90,000 summonses and citations, and the number in the last year of that period was double what it was in the first year. Either crime and dog-barking were skyrocketing, or police were experiencing more pressure to write tickets. As the report wrote:

The City’s emphasis on revenue generation has a profound effect on FPD’s approach to law enforcement. Patrol assignments and schedules are geared toward aggressive enforcement of Ferguson’s municipal code, with insufficient thought given to whether enforcement strategies promote public safety or unnecessarily undermine community trust and cooperation… The result is a pattern of stops without reasonable suspicion and arrests without probable cause…

For a lot of Americans, this was the first time they were introduced to the idea that cash-strapped municipalities were using the justice system as a means of generating revenue. The grotesque angle was that cities were so desperate that they were reduced to systematically ticketing people who couldn’t pay.

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Taibbi’s Iowa for criminal justice “fees.” Hard to believe that the Midwest used to be truly innovative and “progressive” once upon a time. Hollowed out, the state and local municipal elites cannibalize their institutions and their populace at the altar of the local financial elites who decided to hollow them out in the first place. I know they’re making choices on the winners and the losers so they can maintain their own hierarchy. But if you cannibalize your state and regional areas long enough, and even that little bit of hierarchy these careerist political elites manage to maintain can be taken away once they are no longer needed to manage the decline. 

That whole ‘tax breaks for jobs’ filtered down to even poorly paid, seasonal, or short term jobs. Think of the tax abatements local cities give to a Walmart or Amazon warehouse center; with the poor pay, the large infrastructure costs the city bears, and the lost tax revenue the local property owners end up paying for the tax abatements with rises in their property tax. (Until the city is faced with revolt by the voters for ever increasing property tax.) Then there’s the loss of Main St. jobs that the giant chains displaced.

Now it’s the big national, usually out-of-state, apartment complex developers asking for, and in many cases receiving huge property tax abatements to develop (in many cases “excess) complexes. The local property tax can’t be raised much higher to cover the lost tax revenues to the city, and the city is on the supporting end for roads, water, and electricity infrastructure. The profits from these complexes then leave the city and most often even the state. The jobs created for construction are short term. 

It’s a next loss to the city’s tax base. It’s a gift to giant real estate developers. One of the lures the developers in my area use is that their apartments are so great that they’ll attract the “creative class” to live here, and of course “every city needs to attract the creative class”. Sure. Right. It doesn’t take many of these to punch large holes in a city budget.

So, here we are. In the name of “build it and they will come” cities and counties and even states have wrecked their budgets, and now they’re increasing turning to fines and fees, too often from the poorest and defenseless, to try making up the shortfall.  I’d love to see every city, county, state examine all the tax abatements for businesses they’ve given out over the past 20-30 years and examine which ones of what type have actually improved their budgets and economy, and which have been a net loss to their budgets.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Resisting The Great Reset Equals "Hating Democracies For Their Freedoms"

bloomberg |  Poland and Hungary are going for broke. After meeting in Budapest yesterday, Prime Ministers Mateusz Morawiecki and Viktor Orban reiterated their threat to veto $2.2 trillion of European Union spending, even at the risk of losing their share.

For Orban and Morawiecki, this isn’t about money. It’s about the bloc’s decision to tie funds — including access to the pandemic rescue package — to democratic standards.

Both right-wing nationalist governments are outraged at EU charges of democratic backsliding. But in holding up the budget in defiance of Brussels and fellow EU leaders, they may find themselves on an unsustainable path.

Donald Trump’s election defeat isn’t the only sign that the populist wave is fading. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is again looking for better ties with the west, while in Brazil, President Jair Bolsonaro’s favored candidates all lost in the first round of municipal elections that were a de facto midterm referendum on his rule.

tomluongo |  Because the Great Reset is predicated on a few things occurring.

  1. The EU having a budget and mechanism in place where the Commission has tax/spend and debt issuance capability.
  2. This gives them the political bludgeon necessary to consolidate power in Brussels the same way income tax redistribution undermined Federalism in the U.S.
  3. Extending the COVID-19 narrative to purposefully destroy what’s left of the middle class in Europe and the U.S.
  4. Donald Trump being overthrown as President of the U.S. restoring power there to those loyal to the WEF.
  5. All Populist leaders in Europe – like Matteo Salvini, Geert Wilders, Boris Johnson, Germany’s AfD, Austria’s Freedom Party — neutralized leaving Orban alone against Angela Merkel.
  6. Brexit undermined to the point where either Boris Johnson’s government falls or the U.K. collapses into a failed police state indistinguishable from V for Vendetta.
  7. Control not only over traditional television media but also the flow of information through the newer social media networks, limiting access to any countervailing narratives.

Most of these are in place. Johnson’s personal weakness has squandered one of the greatest political victories of the past century in less than a year.

Trump’s chances of overturning a fraudulent election are at best a coin flip, and realistically, vanishingly small.

AfD has been neutralized in Germany. Italy’s electoral situation is mixed. Austria has been consolidated under a fake populist Sebastian Kurz.

Local police are openly despotic in enforcing the most draconian lockdown regulations.

But Orban and Moraweicki have stood their ground. Trump is standing his ground. David Frost in the U.K., not Boris Johnson, is standing his ground. Will their example inspire others to do the same?

It’s a good question. The sheer desperation of articles like one from the Spectator, entitled “The Visegrád bloc are threatening to tear apart the EU,” speaks volumes when the author realizes the Visegrads don’t hate the EU for its freedom:

Resetting the Future of Work Agenda: Disruption and Renewal in a Post-COVID World

weforum |  presents the experiences and lessons learned from the COVID-19 response of the World Economic Forum’s broader future of work industry community, encompassing more than 60 CHROs of leading global employers as well as a the Forum’s network of Preparing for the Future of Work Industry Accelerators, comprising more than 200 senior HR leaders, education technology and learning providers, academia and government stakeholders across nine industries. The report is intended as a call to action for companies and organizations globally to update and reset their future of work preparedness agendas for a more relevant and inclusive post-pandemic “new” future of work.

The time frame is ten years – by 2030 – the UN agenda 2021 – 2030 should be implemented.

Planned business measures in response to COVID-19:

  • An acceleration of digitized work processes, leading to 84% of all work processes as digital, or virtual / video conferences.

  • Some 83% of people are planned to work remotely – i.e. no more interaction between colleagues – absolute social distancing, separation of humanity from the human contact.

  • About 50% of all tasks are planned to be automated – in other words, human input will be drastically diminished, even while remote working.

  • Accelerate the digitization of upskilling / reskilling (e.g. education technology providers) – 42% of skill upgrading or training for new skills will be digitized, in other words, no human contact – all on computer, Artificial Intelligence (AI), algorithms.

  • Accelerate the implementation of upskilling / reskilling programs – 35% of skills are planned to be “re-tooled” – i.e. existing skills are planned to be abandoned – declared defunct.

  • Accelerate ongoing organizational transformations (e.g. restructuring) – 34% of current organizational set-ups are planned to be “restructured’ – or, in other words, existing organizational structures will be declared obsolete – to make space for new sets of organizational frameworks, digital structures that provide utmost control over all activities.

  • Temporarily reassign workers to different tasks – this is expected to touch 30% of the work force. That also means completely different pay-scales – most probably unlivable wages, which would make the also planned “universal basic salary” or “basic income” – a wage that allows you barely to survive, an obvious need. – But it would make you totally dependent on the system – a digital system, where you have no control whatsoever.

  • Temporarily reduce workforce – this is projected as affecting 28% of the population. It is an additional unemployment figure, in disguise, as the “temporarily” will never come back to full-time.

  • Permanently reduce workforce – 13% permanently reduced workforce.

  • Temporarily increase workforce – 5% – there is no reference to what type of workforce – probably unskilled labor that sooner or later will also be replaced by automation, by AI and robotization of the workplace.

  • No specific measures implemented – 4% – does that mean, a mere 4% will remain untouched? From the algorithm and AI-directed new work places? – as small and insignificant as the figure is, it sounds like “wishful thinking”, never to be accomplished.

  • Permanently increase workforce – a mere 1% is projected as “permanently increased workforce”. This is of course not even cosmetics. It is a joke.

This is the what is being put forth, namely the concrete process of implementing The Great Reset.

 

The Mass Of The American Public Is Not Interested In Learning The Truth

southfront  |  The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. …We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized.”

Edward Bernays (1928)

“With the Hunter Biden Expose, Suppression is a Bigger Scandal Than The Actual Story “ (Article Title)

Matt Taibbi (2020)

Bernays, drawing on Walter Lippmann, as Hermann and Chomsky also did in Manufacturing Consent in 1988, got it right.

Matt Taibbi got it almost right.

“Almost”, because he seems to suggest that media censorship, redaction and news blackouts, as in the case of the Hunter Biden scandal, are exceptional events, when they are really just examples of what the Main Stream Media (MSM) does all the time: a time-honored tradition that has been a fixture of the Western World since before WWI. What Bernays called “conscious and intelligent manipulation” — molding your mind on behalf of a small group of people, “ the invisible government that is the true ruling power” — is what the media was set up to do, its main job with the advent of general literacy and newspapers.

Lippmann and Bernays claimed that this kind of subtle authoritarian control is what people wanted, an idea that Adolph Hitler naturally liked, as he did most things American. And, today’s mainstream media seem to agree — people don’t want to think for themselves.

At least, that belief is implicit in the redaction of the Hunter Biden story — along with the news blackout of Joe Biden’s past — coupled with constant repetition of Joe Biden’s faux virtues and the enthusiastic whitewashing of his cabinet of neocons and neoliberals. Redaction and Repetition” are the two, all-important R’s of mind control.

 

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Biden Administration Will Camouflage Corruption With A Diversity Figleaf

caitlinjohnstone |  There has never been a better time to be a woman, minority or member of the LGBT community who works in the DC establishment and thinks the poor should be made into pet food.

The New York Times has published an article titled "Could Limiting Corporate Candidates Hurt Biden’s Diversity Push?", for the benefit of all those normal everyday readers who've been lying awake at night wondering if limiting corporate candidates might hurt Biden's diversity push.

The article's authors warn against the nonexistent, completely imaginary threat of the next presidential administration rejecting corporatists for cabinet positions to appease the Democratic Party's progressive wing, claiming that doing so would be "narrowing the candidate pool" in a way that hurts Biden's stated aim of creating an administration that is as diverse as America. Because apparently executive positions in the corporate and financial sector are the only place you can find ethnic minorities in America.

“Groups from the far left throw out edicts, but these don’t reflect the realities of the American experience or inequality, the racial wealth gap, and may prove counterproductive to diversify the administration and to implement policies that work for all Americans,” NYT is told by a member of the influential DC lobbying firm Mehlman Castagnetti.

The New York Times is warning of the pressing danger of the Biden administration conceding too much to "the far left" at a time when progressive politicians have reportedly already been ruled out as candidates for cabinet positions due to concerns of appearing to be too far left, and when members of the Biden camp are already waving off demands from progressives using the phrase "we don't negotiate with terrorists".

Vox has also put out an article celebrating diversity without regard to policies or behavior titled "President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team is one of the most diverse ever", subtitled "Biden wants his administration to 'look like America.' His transition team is a start."

"Thus far, 46 percent of Biden’s transition staff are people of color and 41 percent of senior staff are people of color," Vox reports. "More than half of the transition staff — 52 percent — are women, and 53 percent of senior staff are women."

 

What Politics Will You Profess In The Era Of Diminishing Returns?

theamericanconservative  |  Jeff Rubin, author of The Expendables: How the Middle Class got Screwed by Globalization, has an answer to the above question that is easily deduced from the subtitle of his book. The socio-economic arrangements produced by globalization have made labor the most flexible and plentiful resource in the economic process. The pressure on the middle class, and all that falls below it, has been so persistent and powerful, that now “only 37 percent of Americans believe their children will be better off financially than they themselves are. Only 24 percent in Canada or Australia feel the same. And in France, that figure dips to only 9 percent.” And “[i]n the mid-1980s it would have taken a typical middle-income family with two children less than seven years of income to save up to buy a home; it now takes more than ten years. At the same time, housing expenditures that accounted for a quarter of most middle-class household incomes in the 1990s now account for a third.”

The story of globalization is engraved in the “shuttered factories across North America, the boarded-up main streets, the empty union halls.” Rubin does admit that there are benefits accrued from globalization, billions have been lifted up out of poverty in what was previously known as the third world, wealth has been created, certain efficiencies have been achieved. The question for someone in the western world is how much more of a price he’s willing to pay to keep the whole thing going on, especially as we have entered a phase of diminishing returns for almost all involved.

As Joel Kotkin has written, “[e]ven in Asia, there are signs of social collapse. According to a recent survey by the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs, half of all Korean households have experienced some form of family crisis, many involving debt, job loss, or issues relating to child or elder care.” And “[i]n “classless” China, a massive class of migrant workers—over 280 million—inhabit a netherworld of substandard housing, unsteady work, and miserable environmental conditions, all after leaving their offspring behind in villages. These new serfs vastly outnumber the Westernized, highly educated Chinese whom most Westerners encounter.” “Rather than replicating the middle-class growth of post–World War II America and Europe, notes researcher Nan Chen, ‘China appears to have skipped that stage altogether and headed straight for a model of extraordinary productivity but disproportionately distributed wealth like the contemporary United States.’”

Although Rubin concedes to the globalist side higher GDP growth, even that does not seem to be so true for the western world in the last couple decades. Per Nicholas Eberstadt, in “Our Miserable 21st Century,” “[b]etween late 2000 and late 2007, per capita GDP growth averaged less than 1.5 percent per annum.” “With postwar, pre-21st-century rates for the years 2000–2016, per capita GDP in America would be more than 20 percent higher than it is today.”

Stagnation seems to be a more apt characterization of the situation we are in. Fredrik Erixon in his superb The Innovation Illusion, argues that “[p]roductivity growth is going south, and has been doing so for several decades.” “Between 1995 and 2009, Europe’s labor productivity grew by just 1 percent annually.” Noting that “[t]he four factors that have made Western capitalism dull and hidebound are gray capital, corporate managerialism, globalization, and complex regulation.”

 

 

Friday, November 27, 2020

Fiat Authority Has No Power A Competent Man Is Bound To Acknowledge

counterpunch |  In effect, the governor used his authority to pull us into an alternative narrative in which we were people who watched out for each other, not only for ourselves as we ordinarily do, when chips are not down. Just as on the Right, people follow their talk-radio-supplied narrative of Big Government and elites out for themselves, people on the Left must have a larger narrative; in our case one that can authorize for us the Truth (I capitalize in order to designate the highest, most inclusive Truth) of interdependence – unless our aim, like that on the Right, is to keep capitalism going no matter what. 

Long ago, we lost the unifying myth of religion that now is replaced in liberal reality with unchecked anti-authoritarianism and its correlative, cancel culture. The function of myth is to unify, to provide a kind of “immunity” that allows people to hold contrary realities in imagination, without having to cancel the other or oneself. Contrarily, with no persuasive reason to “stick together,” each existing in our frail “micro-realities,” like catty girls on the playground we have to make objectionable people not exist. A healthy immunity that could allow us to stop reflexively fending off “otherness,” will not come from Big Pharma, but only from expanded imaginations.

Without a narrative of inclusion, a narrative of hate is all our imaginations are left with to feed on exuberantly. Last week I read one of those smug editorial pieces in the NYTimes that serves to keep divisiveness alive and well in stunted liberal hearts, rather than to encourage healing (that doesn’t sell papers!). Columnist Frank Bruni took on Ivanka and Jarrod, seeming to delight in imagining their being friendless in NYC, and “getting theirs” after Trump’s loss. And it works! As I read, delicious feelings of sweet revenge rose up in me: Yes! Bring them down into the mud! Let them see what it feels like!

Whether or not our leaders can resist politicizing it, and despite the massive anti-mask rebellions going on across the country, feeding on Fox news, talk radio and social media-spread theories, the pandemic crisis calls us unambiguously to that Truth of interdependence that not only makes an injury to one an injury to all; it makes one’s own good and the good for all the same, not artificially kept separate as they are in “normal” liberal reality. That people must fend off the Truth that puts the common good first is due as much to liberalism’s unchecked, reflexive anti-authoritarianism, based at its core in deep wounds inflicted by a rudderless, profits-driven zeitgeist that rewards individuals with the emblems of success (NY Times columnist!), as to uneducated Trump-followers’ resentments.

Though one could be forgiven for thinking liberals had just recently heard of it, the Truth of interdependence is not new, even in western civilization. Religious tradition gives us beautiful phrases like the “Kingdom of God,” the “brotherhood of man,” the “body of Christ” that point to this all-embracing inclusivity. The words are metaphors for realities only imagination can grasp, but not beyond the capacity of the heart to experience and to hunger after. Scripture, after all, is poetry put to the use of the institution. Western societies, sacrificing poetry for power, failed to attain the inclusiveness that was basis for their own religions. We became top-down missionizers, conquerors, colonial settlers and exploiters, always capable of exclusion and cruelty in the name of a higher, civilizing purpose.

Contrary to popular “wisdom,” surrender to the truth of the “Kingdom of God” is not sacrifice of individual freedom. It’s not simply the opposite of selfish egoism. Rather, this highest most inclusive truth favors individuality as the expression of freedom. Under its uncompromising terms of wholeness and interrelatedness, action one takes on behalf of genuinely “selfish” concerns, say, for personal meaning and occasional joy, is not egoistic; serving soul it serves the whole. Equally, action on behalf of oppressed others follows naturally from the prior liberation of one’s personal soul, that, in liberal reality has been deemed inferior and goes undefended (i.e., the “original injustice” that impels us to forsake our creative spirit for bourgeois rewards).

Neither Ironic Or Hypocritical - Become Competent - Command Respect - Stop Begging...,

 
medium |  a vacuum, the story of Netflix pulling Chappelle’s Show from the platform at the request of its star and creator is a feel-good story. Of course it is. Dave Chappelle left Comedy Central when he felt he was creatively compromised. After a period of relative exile, he’s now making as much money with Netflix as he left on the table before and wields enough power and respect for the multibillion-dollar company to honor his wishes.

It’s a story of perseverance, betting on yourself, and leveraging your gifts to write your own legacy. Again, in a vacuum. But Chappelle, one of the most dissected and gravitational figures in pop culture, will never live in a vacuum. And in order to properly contextualize his power move — as related in “Unforgiven,” an 18-minute performance the comic uploaded to Instagram yesterday — we have to establish its deep irony.

For the past few years, since his return to mainstream consciousness, Chappelle has taken it upon himself to wave the flag of comedians’ right to tell any types of jokes they want, no matter whom they offend. To prove this point, Chappelle has peppered his stand-ups with jokes at the expense of the trans community. And as members of that community have voiced their anger and hurt over these jokes (which are among the least funny or creative in his arsenal), Chappelle has only responded with defiance and more disregard. He’s labeled the backlash as censorship or cancel culture instead of thoughtfully addressing the feelings and worries from a community continuously terrorized by prejudice and hate.

So it’s quite the plot twist that Chappelle is engaging in the same sort of behavior he’s railed against for the past few years. Sure, Chappelle’s initial anger over Chappelle’s Show being streamed on HBO Max and Netflix came from the fact that he wasn’t getting paid for it. But that ship has sailed. Chappelle will never see another dime from Chappelle’s Show. No, the reason he reached out to Netflix was, by his own words, over something other than finances:

I like working for Netflix because when all those bad things happened to me, that company didn’t even exist. And when I found out they were streaming Chappelle’s Show, I was furious. How could they not know?

So you know what I did? I called them, and I told them that this makes me feel bad. And you want to know what they did? They agreed that they would take it off their platform just so I could feel better. That’s why I fuck with Netflix. Because they paid me my money, they do what they say they’re going to do, and they went above and beyond what you could expect from a businessman. They did something just because they thought that I might think that they were wrong.

Read that again. Chappelle does words for a living. He didn’t say he called and asked for Netflix to remove the show because of money. He said he called to say “this makes me feel bad.” And Netflix responded by pulling the show “just so I could feel better.”

Arbitrary, Unscientific, And Conflicting Lockdown Restrictions Confusing The Carens

theatlantic  |  Two weeks ago, I staged a reluctant intervention via Instagram direct message. The subject was a longtime friend, Josh, who had been sharing photos of himself and his fiancé occasionally dining indoors at restaurants since New York City, where we both live, had reopened them in late September. At first, I hadn’t said anything. Preliminary research suggests that when people congregate indoors, an infected person is almost 20 times more likely to transmit the virus than if they were outside. But restaurants are open legally in New York, and I am not the COVID police. Josh and I had chatted several times in the early months of the pandemic about safety, and I felt sure that he was making an informed decision, even if it wasn’t the one I’d make.

As weeks passed, my confidence began to slip. The number of daily new cases in NYC started to balloon, heightening the risk of transmission in any closed space, but Josh kept going to restaurants. Maybe he was misunderstanding something about the risk. Maybe he’d want to know. The next time he posted about COVID-19, I told him, as gently as I could, that if he was trying to stay safe, it would be a good idea to stop dining indoors.

My suspicions were correct. Because the state and city had reopened restaurants, Josh, who asked to be identified only by his first name to protect his privacy, assumed that local health officials had figured out a patchwork of precautions that would make indoor dining safe. He and his fiancé had even gone one extra step, making a Google Map of places they knew were being particularly strict with temperature checks. They were listening to the people they were told to listen to—New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently released a book about how to control the pandemic—and following all the rules.

Josh was irritated, but not because of me. If indoor dining couldn’t be made safe, he wondered, why were people being encouraged to do it? Why were temperature checks being required if they actually weren’t useful? Why make rules that don’t keep people safe?

Across America, this type of honest confusion abounds. While a misinformation-gorged segment of the population rejects the expert consensus on virus safety outright, so many other people, like Josh, are trying to do everything right, but run afoul of science without realizing it. Often, safety protocols, of all things, are what’s misleading them. In the country’s new devastating wave of infections, a perilous gap exists between the realities of transmission and the rules implemented to prevent it. “When health authorities present one rule after another without clear, science-based substantiation, their advice ends up seeming arbitrary and capricious,” the science journalist Roxanne Khamsi recently wrote in Wired. “That erodes public trust and makes it harder to implement rules that do make sense.” Experts know what has to be done to keep people safe, but confusing policies and tangled messages from some of the country’s most celebrated local leaders are setting people up to die.

Governmentality Censorship Of Controlaspecies Conversation

mises |  YouTube, the dominant video platform owned by Google, decided yesterday to remove a Mises Institute video. This decision apparently lasts for all eternity, cannot be appealed to an actual human, and comes with this friendly admonition: "Because it’s the first time, this is just a warning. If it happens again, your channel will get a strike and you won’t be able to do things like upload, post, or live stream for 1 week." 

The video, a talk by Tom Woods titled "The Covid Cult" with more than 1.5 million views, was recorded at our live event in Texas two weeks ago. It offered challenges to the official narrative surrounding the coronavirus, particularly with respect to mask mandates. Woods's talk featured several charts showing rises in Covid "cases" across multiple cities and countries not long after imposing mask rules, demonstrating how such rules apparently have little effect on slowing transmission of the virus.

The speech was nothing less than a heartfelt tour de force against the terrible lockdowns and pseudoscience plaguing the debate over Covid, and a call to reexamine tradeoffs and priorities. It was, as you might imagine, a mix of unassailable data combined with our friend Tom's strong prescription for liberty and personal choice rather than centralized state edicts.

In other words, YouTube had no earthly business removing it. This kind of discourse seems to me the best and highest use for YouTube, its most important function.  

"Big Digital," as Professor Michael Rectenwald terms tech companies, have become "governmentalities": supposedly private enterprises turned into instruments of state power and state narratives. This sordid process is different for each company, (some are more complicit than others, a few are heroically non-compliant) but it involves a mix of early start-up funding; connections and contracts with state agencies, particularly relating to defense and surveillance; and propaganda campaigns in service of state narratives. Rectenwald explains this phenomenon in his own recent talk titled "The Google Election":

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Thanksgiving Gift Basket In My Inbox This Morning

Upon the request of Pennsylvania Senator Doug Mastriano (R), the state's Senate Majority Policy Committee held a public hearing to discuss election issues and irregularities at 12:30 ET 

- and - 

Sidney Powell filed two lawsuits - one in Michigan and one in Georgia - late Wednesday alleging massive schemes to rig the election for Joe Biden.

In Georgia, Powell claims in a 104-page complaint filed in the US District Court in Atlanta that the purpose of the scheme was "illegally and fraudulently manipulating the vote count to make certain the election of Joe Biden as president of the United States."

In Michigan, Powell filed a 75-page complaint seeking to set aside the results of the election, claiming that "hundreds of thousands of illegal, ineligible, duplicate, or purely fictitious ballots" enabled by "massive election fraud" facilitated Biden's win in the state.

- finally - 

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily barred New York from enforcing strict attendance limits on places of worship in areas designated coronavirus hot spots, in a decision released late Wednesday.

The court ruled that Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order violated the First Amendment's "free exercise" clause, and actively discriminated against religious institutions.

 

Barack Obama: Best Asset Ever....,

glenngreenwald  |  Just months before the CIA heralded Obama’s unique ability to sell the war and ensure its continuation, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee awarded Obama its highest honor for what it called “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” adding: “for 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman.”

Yet the CIA, as it so often does, knew the hidden truth: that Obama’s most important value was in prettifying, marketing and prolonging wars, not ending them. They saw him for what U.S. Presidents really are: instruments to create a brand and image about the U.S. role in the world that can be effectively peddled to both the domestic population in the U.S. and then on the global stage, and specifically to pretend that endless barbaric U.S. wars are really humanitarian projects benevolently designed to help people — the pretext used to justify every war by every country in history.

Many have questioned why the CIA would be so vehemently opposed to Donald Trump’s candidacy, and then his presidency. Though he did question many of their most prized pieties — from regime change wars such as in Syria to the ongoing viability of NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union — and did harshly criticize their intelligence failures (which is what prompted Chuck Schumer’s pre-inauguration warning that they would exact revenge on him for doing so), it’s not as if Trump were some sort of peacenik President. He made good on his campaign promise to escalate bombing campaigns in the name of fighting terrorism with fewer constraints than before.

But one major reason for the contempt harbored for Trump among security state operatives was his inability and unwillingness to prettify barbaric U.S. actions and to pretend that the U.S. is something other than it is. Recall the fury and rage provoked in 2017 when, in response to a question by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly about Putin’s use of violence against journalists and others, Trump responded: "There are a lot of killers. You think our country's so innocent?"

The rage from that comment was obviously not driven by any doubts about the truth of Trump’s statement. No sentient person would recognize it as anything other than true. The anger was due to the fact that presidents are not supposed to tell the truth about the U.S. and what it does in the world (just as Presidents are supposed to pretend they hate despots even as they support them in every conceivable way). As the 2010 CIA memo reflects, useful presidents are those, like Obama, skilled at deceiving the world and propagandizing them to view U.S. aggression as benign, so as to allow even democratically elected leaders to act in contradiction to public opinion when doing so suits U.S. interests. 

From The Afghan Opium Trade To The American Opioid Epidemic....,

The CIA doesn't give a damn for the military-money-congressional complex wars. The CIA cares about its own power, money, methods, and means - like the Mafia. They don't want a war with the people paying their (official) expenses so they keep their real scope of operations on the down-low.

Best believe they don't give a damn about what congress wants, what the president wants, or what the people want. They lied about Osama bin Laden doing his international man of mystery thing from a James Bond cave complex in Afghanistan because the Taliban cut off the supply of opium by more than 90%. The United Nations was helping the Taliban eradicate opium production. But once the USA and allies liberated Afghanistan from the rule of the Taliban that the USA had created to resist the Soviets, opium production mysteriously skyrocketed to levels higher than before the Taliban started its eradication program.

As noted previously, the obvious and predictable and actual consequences of an action being the real reason for the action, it was this resumption of the opium trade out of Afghanistan that was the real reason for the intelligence supplied by the CIA on the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. The Pakistani intelligence service, ISI, is the CIA's Karachi branch office, the junior partner in this trade. The existence of a never-ending stream of military and CIA transports into and out of Afghanistan and Pakistan - whose contents can never be examined because "national security" - is the primary global smuggling method. The war profiteering, the extra-judicial powers afforded by the Patriot Act and the eternal War on Terror, is just a bonus.

As for the Afghan people, living in one of the poorest and least developed failed states in the world, lacking roads, airports, shipping, etc, and subject to military total information awareness surveillance on the ground, in the air, and from space, 24/7/365, these medieval peasants have somehow managed to smuggle millions of kilograms of one of the most illicit substances in the world every year for the past 819 years - "Afghanistan has been the world's leading illicit opium producer since 2001."

Everyone wants the troops to leave Afghanistan except the Pentagon brass and the CIA. They have prevailed over two presidents and are now ready to manipulate a third into intensifying the war.
 
Consider:
 
Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

Why are we continuing to train these Afghanis who then shoot our soldiers in the back? Afghanistan is a complete waste. Time to come home!

Barack Obama @BarackObama

VP Biden on Afghanistan: "We are leaving in 2014. Period."

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

I agree with Pres. Obama on Afghanistan. We should have a speedy withdrawal. Why should we keep wasting our money -- rebuild the U.S.!

Barack Obama @BarackObama

President Obama: "By the end of next year, our war in Afghanistan will be over."

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump

We should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!

M.K. Bhadrakumar explains why the Pentagon prevailed over two presidents:

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

The Pandemic Is Over But The Assault On Your Civil Liberties Has Only Just Begun

aier |  This video provides one of the most erudite and informative looks at Covid-19 and the consequences of lockdowns. It was remarkable this week to watch as it appeared on YouTube and was forcibly taken down only 2 hours after posting. The copy below is hosted on LBRY, a blockchain video application. In a year of fantastic educational content, this is one of the best we’ve seen.

Consider the presenter’s bio:

Dr. Michael Yeadon is an Allergy & Respiratory Therapeutic Area expert with 23 years in the pharmaceutical industry. He trained as a biochemist and pharmacologist, obtaining his PhD from the University of Surrey (UK) in 1988.

Dr. Yeadon then worked at the Wellcome Research Labs with Salvador Moncada with a research focus on airway hyper-responsiveness and effects of pollutants including ozone and working in drug discovery of 5-LO, COX, PAF, NO and lung inflammation. With colleagues, he was the first to detect exhaled NO in animals and later to induce NOS in lung via allergic triggers.

Joining Pfizer in 1995, he was responsible for the growth and portfolio delivery of the Allergy & Respiratory pipeline within the company. He was responsible for target selection and the progress into humans of new molecules, leading teams of up to 200 staff across all disciplines and won an Achievement Award for productivity in 2008.

Under his leadership the research unit invented oral and inhaled NCEs which delivered multiple positive clinical proofs of concept in asthma, allergic rhinitis and COPD. He led productive collaborations such as with Rigel Pharmaceuticals (SYK inhibitors) and was involved in the licensing of Spiriva and acquisition of the Meridica (inhaler device) company.

Dr. Yeadon has published over 40 original research articles and now consults and partners with a number of biotechnology companies. Before working with Apellis, Dr. Yeadon was VP and Chief Scientific Officer (Allergy & Respiratory Research) with Pfizer.

France, Its Muslims And A Template For The Great Resetting Of Your Civil Liberties

greenwald |  Whether out of political calculation, conviction or some combination of both, French President Emmanuel Macron has seized on the grotesque murder last month of Samuel Paty to push two extreme assaults on core civil liberties. One is a law, approved by the French Parliament on Saturday, that “ban[s] the publication of images of on-duty police officers as well as expand[s] the use of surveillance drones and police powers” — a new restriction which press freedom groups argue criminalizes the attempt to hold police officers accountable for brutality and excess force and allows the government even greater powers of domestic spying. The other is an even more sweeping measure that would, among other things, ban homeschooling and require registration of children with the state.

A state of emergency declared in France after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo murders and multi-venue terror attacks gave the state virtually unlimited powers to detain citizens without due process and domestically spy with essentially no checks. That resulted, as intended, in the mass infiltration of mosques by police informants, surveillance of imams, and even the sweeping up by police of large numbers of Muslim citizens who were never charged with let alone convicted of any crimes.

Anyone who believes in the necessity of free speech, free expression, privacy rights and due process — and that includes those who cheered the massive free speech rally in Paris after the 2015 Charlie Hebdo murders, led by some of the world’s worst despots — has to be concerned about the growing French demands for still greater crackdowns, if not due to a belief in universally applied civil liberties principles then at least out of self-interested concern that this framework is going to be applied throughout the west: not only against Muslims but against anyone deemed on the margins or fringes or inside the realms of dissent.


To explore the growing controversies over civil liberties and France — which are absolutely a harbinger of similar debates already occurring, with still more to come, throughout the west — I spoke with one of France’s most knowledgeable civil liberties analysts and activists, Yasser Louati.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Now She Gotta Be A Q-Anon Conspiracist Too?!?!?!?

politico |  While Trump praised the new hire on Twitter, calling Powell a “GREAT LAWYER,” legal observers scratched their heads. Powell, who is in her 60s (she would not confirm her exact age), had shared content from social media accounts associated with QAnon, the wide-ranging conspiracy movement holding in part that Trump is doing battle with demonic, pedophile-loving Democrats and members of the deep state. The timing was also odd. Flynn’s sentencing had been delayed at that point because of procedural issues, but it was expected soon. And Mueller had recommended that Flynn receive no prison time because of the “substantial assistance” he provided in the special counsel investigation. (Flynn, under Powell’s advisement, is not speaking to the media.)

It was clear soon enough that Powell was taking a different tack. In August, she moved to have Flynn’s case dismissed for what she called “pernicious” prosecutorial misconduct, and requested that Emmet Sullivan, the presiding District Court judge, hold prosecutors in contempt for allegedly hiding FBI documents and communications that she said proved Flynn was pressured to plead guilty. In a court brief filed in October, she asserted that Flynn had been “deliberately targeted for destruction” by the intelligence community. The government countered that it had already relinquished any relevant material and that Powell was advancing “conspiracy theories” to fish for evidence that did not exist.

This week, Flynn officially sought to withdraw his guilty plea “because of the government’s bad faith, vindictiveness, and breach of the plea agreement,” as Powell wrote in a court brief. Sullivan pushed back the sentencing by another month to consider the unusual request. But, says Barbara McQuade, a University of Michigan law professor and former U.S. attorney specializing in national security matters, “The scorched-earth strategy that Powell is using is rarely effective with judges.”

That Powell was seemingly blind to this likely outcome speaks to her full embrace of the Trumpian ethos of grievance and “alternative facts.” Which wasn’t always her M.O.: A federal prosecutor herself for a decade, Powell turned on her own ilk and spent years making a forceful case against prosecutorial overreach—a legitimate issue. It was when her cause came to align with Trump’s and Flynn’s plight as targets of Mueller’s probe that she worked her way into a deep state-hating, MAGA-loving network that landed her a high-profile client.

But the MAGA echo chamber, it seems, doesn’t always benefit its residents once they’re outside that bubble. While a strategy of denial and attacking the enemy might have worked for Trump during the Mueller investigation (and might yet work for him in his impeachment trial), Michael Flynn is not the president. If her client ends up in prison, it might be because of the Trumpian strategy Sidney Powell embraced.

“Crackpot conspiracy theories get easy traction on the internet,” says John Schindler, a former NSA analyst who has been critical of Flynn, but also of Hillary Clinton and the FBI. “They’re less likely to do well in federal court.”

Did Sidney Powell Undermine The Georgia GOP Senate Runoff?

newsweek |  Sidney Powell, a former member of President Donald Trump's legal team who claimed she would "blow up" Georgia with a "biblical" voter fraud lawsuit, undermined top Republicans ahead of two key Senate runoff races in the state by peddling baseless conspiracy theories.

The lawyer, who was cut loose by the Trump campaign on Sunday, claimed that the Republican Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger were paid to be involved in an alleged conspiracy around the use of Dominion Voting Systems.

"Georgia's probably going to be the first state I'm gonna blow up," Powell told the conservative network Newsmax TV yesterday.

She also made the unfounded claim on Newsmax that Rep. Doug Collins would have beaten Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler in the special election for her seat, were it not for the alleged conspiracy.

"There's no telling how many congressional candidates should have won that lost by the addition of... the algorithm that they were running against whoever they wanted," Powell later added.

Loeffler finished almost 6 points ahead of Collins in the race to keep her Senate seat. She has now advanced to a runoff contest against Raphael Warnock, the Democratic candidate vying to unseat her and overturn the Republican majority in the upper chamber.

After Powell appeared on Newsmax, the Trump campaign released a statement saying Powell was not a member of its legal team, nor working on behalf of the commander-in-chief in a personal capacity.

 

SCOTUS Federal Circuit Assignments

turcopolier  |  On 20 November, new assignments were made because Judge Ginsburg passed away and was replaced by Judge Amy Coney Barrett [3].  The states that may be in play in the election, the federal circuits they are in, and the judges assigned to each circuit are: Pennsylvania, Third Circuit, Alito; Michigan, Sixth Circuit, Kavanaugh; Wisconsin, Seventh Circuit, Barrett; Georgia, Eleventh Circuit, Thomas; and Arizona, Ninth Circuit, Kagan.

Scott Adams thought that the assignment of Supreme Court judges to certain circuits may have some effect on the court cases about the election, and he realized that he had only limited information about the process.  However, the single judge assigned to a circuit cannot decide an issue or the merits of anything.  Only a majority of the members of the court can. The single judge can issue a stay order or other authorized order about actions of a lower court or of a state, and in some situations, the actions of the federal government.  This is why Adams' interpretion of what the circuit assignments mean is mistaken, since he assumes that a particular judge assigned to a particular circuit can decide a critical lawsuit about the election.

Because of the time periods established in the federal constitution for the presidential selection process, the election court challenges are a race against the clock.  In that context, the Supreme Court judge assigned to a circuit could issue a stay order minutes before a midnight deadline.  Theoretically, the single judge could deny a stay order right before a deadline, so that the whole court could not rule on it in time, but that would almost certainly not happen.  The one judge would likely issue a stay order so that all of the judges could decide the next day whether to keep it in place until they made a ruling by majority vote on the matter in question.

A quorum for the Supreme Court is six judges.  When there were only eight after Judge Antonin Scalia passed away -- and then later, Judge Ruth Ginsburg -- the court could continue to operate. And even if three judges are missing, decisions can still be made [4]. 

As the election challenges continue, the television and media driven mantra that the sky will fall if Joe Biden is not elected president is fatuous and false, along with its sibling that the country will be "torn apart" if courts intervene to change the psychological operation underway that Biden is the "president-elect", although he has not yet been constitutionally elected or selected.  And, that the "credibility of the system" will not remain intact if election contests are sustained by court or legislative action, and Trump remains president.  Those phrases are commonly used to try to weaken resolve and cause others, especially those in decision-making positions, to not push forward, and to manipulate their sense of guilt that they will contribute to great damage and destruction unless they throw in the towel and submit to what perpetrators might desire. 

The cognitive psychology displayed since election day to impede and delegitimize investigations of the election is quite sophisticated. If Trump prevails, the probable street protests, violence, and media propaganda that will follow will not cause "the system" to fall apart, because the active perpetrators will be badly outnumbered by "us", and people with jobs in the system will want to continue on with their lives.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Still Waiting For Those Steroids To Kick In....,

CTH  |  Historically the GOP was dependent on big major donors and Wall Street for support, but the Trump small donor army shattered all republican records for contributions and showed a completely new grassroots donor base.  Tens of millions of middle-class Americans fueled the MAGA movement and stunned the republican establishment.

As an outcome of that massive data-file, and the contractual agreements to share with the Republican National Committee, the RNC became flush with money and transmitted the file to other GOP members in down ballot races.   Essentially Trump represented access to millions of previously hidden Americans, that’s why your emails and phones blew up in 2020 with pleas for contributions from every outlier GOP entity; the vultures in the business…

Within the business part of the GOP there are massive territorial fights amid those who live on the donations from within political campaigns.  The Trump MAGA file is being exploited like a bloody carcass dropped into a pool of piranha.  Once you know how the business end works, then a lot of other stuff makes sense.  Including this:

Trump Campaign Statement on Legal Team

“Sidney Powell is practicing law on her own. She is not a member of the Trump Legal Team. She is also not a lawyer for the President in his personal capacity.”

- Rudy Giuliani, Attorney for President Trump, and Jenna Ellis, Trump Campaign Senior Legal Adviser and Attorney for President Trump

Sidney Powell Is Not Going To Submit

 I believe this is the tweet that got Sidney Powell's twitter account a 12 hour suspension:



Which means we HAVE TO go see what there is to see: 

gnews |   In the 2020 U.S. presidential election, with public opinion, on election day November 3rd, overwhelmingly in favor of President Trump, the preliminary results from the mainstream media on the morning of November 4th showed Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden winning the Presidential contest over President Trump. While Biden’s team was celebrating, evidence of ballot fraud was emerging. The Dominion Voting Systems (DVS) ballot-counting system used in 28 states during the election contained Chinese-made hardware components as well as the Smartmatic ballot software. Voter data was illegally transmitted to foreign countries and this led to the seizure of a server by the U.S. military at the offices of Scytl in Frankfurt, Germany. Public discontent reached a climax and finally erupted on November 14 in Washington, D.C., when the Washington D.C. Voters’ Association held a rally. Hundreds of thousands of people rallied in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to demand electoral transparency, and to support Trump’s re-election.

The use of high-tech voting systems to process voting results in the U.S. is not new. The DVS machines use software from Smartmatic which describes itself as the global leader in secure, accessible, transparent election technology. Once one of the top-ranked voting systems in the U.S., Smartmatic has a complex background and continues to generate controversy. In the 2020 U.S. election it has been exposed as a real threat to U.S. national security.

Founded in Venezuela in 1997 by a team of three engineers – Antonio Mugica, Alfredo José Anzola, and Roger Piñate, Smartmatic specializes in the design and end-to-end deployment of technology solutions for specific applications. The company’s niches are: electronic voting systems, smart city solutions (including public safety and public transportation), identity management systems for civil registration, and authentication products for government applications.

The company’s first U.S. entity was incorporated in Delaware in April 2000 and opened its headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida with seven employees in November of that year. The 2000 U.S. presidential election was marred by “hanging and dimpled chads” on the Florida ballot cards. After controversy erupted over the mis-counting of ballots, Smartmatic began to target the development of election voting systems.

In April 2003 in Caracas, Venezuela, Smartmatic officially unveiled its prototype for election automation. The testing of the prototype covered all the details of the process necessary for any type of election. During the tests, emphasis was placed on the system’s encryption capabilities, which are essential for the confidential storage and transmission of data, as well as the robustness of the software and hardware system’s components. The system passed all tests with no shortcomings, said a company spokesperson.

The voting system was developed entirely in-house by Smartmatic. That includes the integration of hardware and software systems from design stage to end-to-end deployment. Such a complex, purpose-built technical solution would require a strong, system-wide R&D capability that would not have been possible in Venezuela without massive technical and financial support. Although Smartmatric established a U.S. presence in 2000, almost all of its products were developed in Venezuela, a country where capital is scarce and scientific research and manufacturing are not sophisticated.

Key conclusion/question #1: where did the financing and R&D knowledge come from?

Smartmatric’s voting solution was first implemented in the August 2004 recall referendum against President Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, and was successful in helping Chávez secure 59% of the votes. This result was met with accusations of electoral fraud. At the time questions were only raised about the election process and patterns. Nobody focused on the Smartmatic voting system. The good people of Venezuela had no idea that an invisible hand was manipulating the referendum.

Smartmatic first established a presence in the United States in 2000 in Boca Raton, Florida, then moved its headquarters to Amsterdam, the Netherlands in 2004, and opened a new headquarters in London in 2012.

According to Wikipedia: “although Smartmatic has made different claims about whether they are American or Dutch, the U.S. State Department notes that the owners of the company remain hidden in a network of holding companies in the Netherlands and Barbados”. The New York Times notes that “the role of the young Venezuelan engineers who founded Smartmatic has become less obvious and that its organization is an elaborate network of offshore companies and foreign trusts.” BBC News noted that while Smartmatic says the company was founded in the U.S. and “its roots are firmly fixed in (Venezuela), the ownership structure is opaque.” Smartmatic maintains that holding companies in multiple countries are used for “tax efficiency.”

WikiLeaks provides some more detail, “…they have a list of about 30 anonymous investors …. the silent partners are mainly upper-class Venezuelans, …. then Defense Minister Jose Vicente Rangel …. the Vice President’s daughter Gisela Rangel Avalos, Chávez’s political mentor Luis Miquelina is also a shareholder in the company ….” The true identity of most of Smartmatic’s shareholders remains a mystery.

Key conclusion/question #2: who are the true owners of Smartmatic and where is the company resident for tax purposes?